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Wild blueberry extract intervention in healthy older adults: a multi-study, randomised, controlled investigation of acute cognitive and cardiovascular effects

Cheng, N., Barfoot, K. L. ORCID:, Le Cozannet, R., Fança-Berthon, P., Lamport, D. J. ORCID: and Williams, C. M. ORCID: (2024) Wild blueberry extract intervention in healthy older adults: a multi-study, randomised, controlled investigation of acute cognitive and cardiovascular effects. Nutrients, 16 (8). 1180. ISSN 2072-6643

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/nu16081180


Background: Circadian and homeostatic declines in cognitive performance are observed during the day, most commonly at 14:00. Additionally, postprandial reductions in cognitive ability have been widely demonstrated 1 h after lunch consumption, affecting domains of executive functioning (EF), episodic memory (EM), and attention. Existing evidence shows that anthocyanin-rich foods such as berries may improve or attenuate the decline in EF and EM in ageing adults. Further research is required to assess whether extracts such as wild blueberry extract (WBE) may be beneficial for cognitive function across an acute timeframe, including known periods of reduced functioning. Objectives: (1) Study 1: ROAB: To investigate the efficacy of WBE in maintaining EF and EM throughout the day alongside measures of cardiovascular outcomes in healthy older adults. A range of WBE doses were utilised to identify the optimal dose at which cognitive and cardiovascular effects occur. (2) Study 2: BEAT: To replicate alleviation of cognitive decline during a predicted post-lunch dip whilst also improving cardiovascular outcomes following acute WBE 222 mg supplementation. Methods: Both studies employed a randomised, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled design to explore the effects of WBE intervention versus placebo on several outcomes, including EM, EF, blood pressure, and heart rate in a healthy older adult population (aged 68–75). In ROAB, 28 participants received a single dose of WBE 111 mg, 222 mg, 444 mg, or 888 mg or placebo over a 5-week period, each separated by a 1-week washout. Outcomes were measured at 0 h, 2 h, 4 h, and 6 h post intervention, with intervention occurring immediately after baseline (0 h). In BEAT, 45 participants received WBE 222 mg and placebo (1-week washout). Outcomes were measured at 0 h and 6 h (14:00) when a post-lunch dip was anticipated. This was further enhanced by consumption of lunch 1 h prior to cognitive testing. The WBE 222 mg intervention aligned with known peaks in plasma blueberry polyphenol metabolites at 2 h post dosing, which would coincide with a predicted drop in post-lunch performance. Results: ROAB: A significant dip in executive function was apparent at the 4 h timepoint for placebo only, indicating attenuation for WBE doses. Strikingly, WBE 222 mg produced acute reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with placebo. BEAT: EF reaction time was found to be significantly faster for WBE 222 compared to placebo at the predicted post-lunch dip (14:00), with no other notable benefits on a range of cognitive and cardiovascular outcomes. Conclusion: These two studies indicate that WBE may have cardiovascular benefits and attenuate the natural cognitive decline observed over the course of the day, particularly when a decline is associated with a circadian rhythm-driven postprandial dip. However, it is important to acknowledge that effects were subtle, and benefits were only observed on a small number of outcomes. Further research is required to explore the utility of WBE in populations already experiencing mild cognitive impairments

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Nutrition and Health
ID Code:116467


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